Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez back for second stint with Toronto FC

Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez back for second stint with Toronto FC

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez is back in the Toronto FC squad.

The 35-year-old attacking midfielder has spent the last two seasons in Los Angeles but became available after Galaxy decided not to exercise his contract option. Toronto then selected him in Phase 2 of last month’s MLS reentry draft.

Vazquez has signed until 2023 with an option for 2024.

“We’re excited to have a player like Victor join the team and reinforce our depth of midfield,” Toronto head coach and athletic director Bob Bradley said in a statement on Friday. “He’s a talented player with a great understanding of the game, an excellent passer and brings experience and creativity to our midfield.”

Vazquez left Toronto in January 2019 after two successful years to play in Qatar for Al-Arabi Sports Club and Umm Salal Sport Club. In 2020 he moved to the Belgian KAS Eupen.

“I’m so happy to be back home,” Vazquez said. “Can’t wait to see you all again and play in front of you on these special nights at BMO Field. We will have fun and get the club back to the greats where it belongs.”

Vazquez joins a Toronto midfield that includes captain Michael Bradley and Canada internationals Jonathan Osorio and Mark-Anthony Kaye, with star Italian attackers Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi on the flanks.

A product of FC Barcelona’s academy and former Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year, Vazquez played a big part in TFC’s glory days.

He scored the insurance goal in Toronto’s 2-0 MLS Cup final win over Seattle in 2017 while also helping TFC win the Supporters’ Shield and the Canadian Championship. Vazquez was named to the MLS Best XI after scoring eight goals and providing 16 assists in the regular season.

Vazquez recorded 18 goals and 28 assists in 65 appearances in all competitions for TFC in 2017 and 18.

Vazquez joined FC Barcelona aged 10 and worked his way up the ranks to make his first-team debut in April 2008. He then moved to Club Brugge where he scored 25 goals and added 50 assists in five seasons for the Belgian club,

He spent 2016 in Mexico with Cruz Azul before joining Toronto.

In two seasons with Galaxy, Vazquez recorded five goals and 11 assists in 57 games in all competitions.

Vazquez earned $440,000 last season with the Galaxy, which was sanctioned by the MLS earlier this month for violating payroll budget and roster guidelines during the 2019 season. The violations did not affect Vazquez, who earned $1.5 million with Toronto in 2018.

The sanctions included include a $1 million fine for the club and the loss of $1 million in available future general allocation funds. The Galaxy was also barred from registering a player – like Vazquez – who required obtaining an international transfer certificate from outside the US and Canada during the secondary transfer window in 2023.

When Vazquez left Toronto, then-head coach Greg Vanney called the Spaniard “a staunch servant of the club and a fantastic player and an even better person”.

The two were reunited when Vanney took over the galaxy.

Vazquez was held back by various grievances at Toronto in 2018, limiting him to 21 league games. His playoff hopes dashed, the team suspended him for the remaining three games of the season to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery.

Vazquez had chronic knee problems throughout his career but was also plagued by a nerve problem and back pain at Toronto.

When he was healthy, he unleashed the attack.

“Victor makes you look better, so it’s nice to have him on the field,” Osorio said in July 2018. “His brain is ticking a little bit faster than the normal brain, especially on the field. It’s amazing to watch.”

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This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 16, 2022.

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